Opportunity's Agony

Author: Orrymain
Category: Slash, Angst, Romance, Missing Scene/Epilogue, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  4, during and after “Window of Opportunity”
Spoilers:  Window of Opportunity -- minor ones for Broca Divide, all Season 4 shows to this point, and There But For the Grace of God
Size:  117kb
Written:  April 29-30, May 4,10,19,27,31, June 7,9,20,22-23,26, July 8, 2004  Revised for consistency:  January 28, 2007
Summary:  Jack may have acted like he was having some fun during those time loops, but was he really?  What happened that we didn't see, and what was the real reason for the kiss with Sam?
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
1) Sometimes, Jack and Daniel speak almost telepathically.  Their “silent” words to each other are indicated by asterisks instead of quotes, such as **Jack, we can't.**
2) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
3) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Claudia, QuinGem, Drdjlover!

Opportunity's Agony
by Orrymain

“Danny, maybe we should take a few days off.”

“Jack, we were just at the cabin a couple weeks ago.  We've had so much time off this year, the general's wondering if we're job hunting,” the archaeologist chuckled.

“What?” a shocked Jack questioned.  Then he realized his lover was kidding.  “Danny!”

“Why do you want time off, Babe?” the young man chuckled as he dressed for the SGC.

Jack sighed and sat on the bed.  He was already dressed, having risen early, unable to sleep.

“I know we had that time at the cabin, but it's still been a long few weeks.  We saved the world again, dealt with that Hitler's idea of being kindred spirits, wore those ridiculous armbands until we almost died, and then had some crazy zatarc machine almost send Carter and me to ice land; *and* let's not forget Teal'c's fling with the Goa'uld-lover,” Jack spoke.

“Jack, you shouldn't joke about that.  He loved Shan'auc,” Daniel chastised.

“I thought he loved Drey'auc, too.”

“It's a diff...” Daniel paused.  “You know, I started to say the Jaffa are a different culture, but I'm not so sure it's that different.  Teal'c's been separated from his wife and son for years, and it's probably going to be a long time before they can be together again.  I'm not condoning it, especially, since, uh, well, he was going to ... to ...“

“Bail, leave us cold, go away, abandon us ...”

“That's enough, Jack.  Let's get back to the subject at hand,” Daniel requested, not wanting to evaluate a subject that was a little too close to home for his own taste.  ~I cheated on Sha're, remember?~

“My point is, let's go back to the cabin, or maybe even find a beach somewhere,” Jack suggested.

Daniel buttoned his shirt and moved to sit on the bed next to his lover.  He reached out and took Jack's hand, concerned.

“Jack, are you okay?”

“Yeah, Love, I'm just fine.”

“Jack,” Daniel prodded.

“Danny, did you ever have one of those feelings, though, that you should just stay home in bed?” Jack inquired.

Daniel laughed as he responded, “Yes, and we've both done it.”

“Not that, you geek.”

Jack leaned over, resting his head on his partner's shoulder.  Daniel shifted his arm to go around Jack's back so he could hold him easier and closer.

“Are you sure you're okay?” Daniel asked as he leaned his cheek against Jack's silver-gray hair.

“Yeah, just have one of those feelings; I guess that's why I want to get away.  I want to get away from this odd sense of ...”

“Well, maybe we can take off this weekend, but we have that mission today,” Daniel interjected when his lover ceased speaking, unable to properly describe his feeling.  “Actually, I'm looking forward to the mission.  If we leave now, maybe this morning I can shift a few things around so that we can even take a day off on Friday.”

“Yeah?” Jack asked, feeling encouraged.

As he rubbed Jack's arm with his right hand, Daniel placed a kiss on the top of his head, then answered, “Yeah, so let's go rearrange the schedule, eat some breakfast, get this mission over with, and then go to beach.”

“Cabin.”

“Beach.”

“I did say beach, didn't I?” Jack chuckled.

Daniel laughed as he stood up to grab his briefcase and affirmed, “Yes, you did, and I'm holding you to it.”

Jack pointed to the briefcase, insisting, “No bringing work to the beach, though.”

“Deal!”

====

“Colonel.  Daniel.”

“Carter.”

“Hi, Sam,” Daniel greeted his teammate.

The three had arrived at the SGC at the same time and rode down in the elevator together, switching over on the eleventh floor to the secure elevator that led further down into the Mountain beneath NORAD.

“Have you two had breakfast?”

“Not a bite,” Jack said.

“Not yet,” Daniel answered at the same time.

“Care to join me in the commissary?”

“Good idea, Carter.  I have to go by my office, though.”

“Me, too, actually,” Sam said.  “How about meeting there in forty-five minutes?  That should give us time to eat before the briefing.”

“Okay, Sam.”

“Carter, try to keep it down to a dull bore this time.”

“Jack!” Daniel jabbed his lover with his elbow.

“Well, come on.  This is some sciency thing and ...”

“Jaaaack!”

Just then the doors opened on Level 18.  Daniel exited, saying, “Meet you in forty-five, and Jack ... behave.”

The doors closed before Jack could respond.

“He did that on purpose.”

“Yes, Sir,” Sam said, unsuccessfully trying to stop a laugh.

====

Jack went to his office and took care of things he knew he'd need to in order to convince Hammond to give him Friday off.  He used the O'Neill Filing System -- one here (to the folder hidden in the bottom desk drawer), one here (to the filing out box to be forwarded to whichever underling he felt like hounding), and five here (to the round filing cabinet, the one that set by his desk; the thing most people called a trash can).

~Good.  All caught up.~

Meanwhile, Sam went to her lab and made the final preparations for the briefing.  She was the lead on this one, the primary mission being scientific in nature.  She had pretty much set things up the night before, so she simply needed to do a final check and lay out the printed reports for her colleagues.

~This one should be fun.  Of course, the colonel and Teal'c will be going crazy, but Daniel and I will be having a great time.~

Elsewhere, in his office on Level 18, Daniel arranged for a senior staff member to oversee the research being done as a result of SG-11's most recent dig.  He was pleased that things were mostly caught up at the moment.  He felt comfortable in requesting Friday off.  Sending a couple of last-minute emails with directions for the research, Daniel checked his watch and headed for the commissary.

~Clearing the calendar for Friday was the least I could do.~  Daniel smiled as he walked.  ~After all, I'm going to have a blast on this mission, and he's going to be bored out of his skull.  My poor Silver Fox, but I'll make it up to him at the beach.  If he's lucky, he may actually get to see the sand ... IF I decide to let him out of the hotel room.~

Daniel realized he needed to stop his current line of thought.  For one thing, he was grinning and starting to get some funny looks from personnel as they passed by.  For another, he felt his body chemistry beginning to react in anticipation.

~Steady, Jackson.  Mission first, blast off second.~

====

In the corridor leading to the commissary, Daniel caught up with Sam.

“Ready for food?” he asked.

“Sure.  Do you think O'Malley's has forgiven us yet?”

“Ouch.  Probably not.  I guess we're stuck with the commissary.”

Sam chuckled, admitting, “We'd be stuck with the mess anyway.  O'Malley's doesn't open until lunchtime.”

“We could always break in.”

“Daniel!” Sam was surprised by the comment, though she knew it was a joke.  She added, “But who would cook?”

“Jack!  He'll make us breakfast steaks.”

The major smiled as she commented, “You're in a good mood today.”  He shrugged, a deceptive smile on his face.  “Oh.  Had a ... good morning?”

Daniel's smile evolved into a grin.  He stared down at the floor trying to hide his embarrassment, answering, “Very good.”

Sam almost wished she hadn't asked.  Both she and Daniel were on the verge of turning a light shade of red, so they quickly changed the subject.  A minute later, as they reached the doorway of their destination, Sam asked, “Oh, Daniel, did you see that memo with the change in policy about ...?”

“Gawd, yes.  Is that a joke, Sam?”

“I wish it were.”

Just then, they spotted Jack standing by the food bins.

“What kept you two so long?”

“We're right on time, Jack,” Daniel said as he picked up a plate.  A few minutes later, they were seated, eating their food.  “Jack, how can you stand to eat those every single day?”

Jack smiled as he took another bite of his prized Froot Loops.

“Quality, Dannyboy.  Pure quality.”

“You're sick, O'Neill.”

“Hey, you have waffles all the time,” Jack pointed down with his spoon at the partially eaten waffles.

“I don't eat them every day.  I do eat a variety, you know.”

“Yes, Belgian, buttermilk ... you even eat those waffle stick things now, and then ...”

“Okay, okay.  Geez, Jack.”

Jack smiled with pride at his victory, while Sam just shook her head and quietly ate her breakfast.  “Colonel,” she asked as she ate, “is that memo about the policy change for real?”

“Memo?”

“Gawd, Jack, didn't you read it?”  Daniel saw his lover's blank expression.  Dryly, he said, “Right.  What was I thinking?  Of course, you didn't.”  Jack gave him a funny look which Daniel ignored, opting instead to inform the older man about the memo.  “Let me fill you in on what is probably the most ridiculous piece of political nonsense since Kinsey was elected to office.”

Daniel rambled on about the memo, giving all the details.  Jack listened, sort of.  He mostly enjoyed the crunch of his breakfast cereal, and he was daydreaming about his three-day weekend with his lover.  Suddenly, he was snapped out of his thoughts by a question.

“Anyway, I’m sorry, but that just happens to be how I feel about it.  What do you think?”

Jack stared at Daniel blankly, finally asking, “What?”

“Jack, were you listening to me?”

“Daniel, I always listen to you.”

“Do not.”

“Do ... not, but I try.  I just get ...” Jack covertly looked around, and then leaned forward, whispering, “distracted.”

Sam laughed as she checked her watch and made a noise before she spoke, “We're gonna be late for the briefing.”

“Not a good thing, Carter, since it's your show this morning.”

“Which is why I mentioned it now, Sir.”

Sam exited, Jack and Daniel following several steps behind her.

“Jack, are you going to answer my question?”

“What question?”

Daniel groaned; Jack smiled; and the two hurried to catch up with Sam to attend the briefing.

====

The briefing droned on, Jack spending his time Daniel-watching more than listening to Sam's comments.  It was, after all, a pretty basic setup.  Sam would be running tests, Daniel would be studying some ruins, and Jack and Teal'c would be watching them, trying to keep them out of trouble.

~As if that's possible.  SG-1's two brains always find a way to get us in trouble.~

**Jack, listen to what Sam is saying.**

**I'm ... listening.**

**No, you're not.  You're ... watching me.**

**My favorite hobby.**

**Jack!  You might need to know what Sam is saying.**

**I know all I need to know.  What about you?**

**I read her report, Babe.  Did you?**

**Daniel, be quiet and listen to Carter's presentation.**

Based on Sam's report, Hammond gave the green light for the mission and dismissed the team.

As Jack and Daniel walked down the corridor, Daniel commented, “You know, one of these days you're going to have to pay attention to the details.”

“I do pay attention.  I just ... prioritize it, and,” Jack said very softly, “you come first.”

“Right.  Jack ...”

“Daniel, I heard what I needed to.  It's not like when you are up there prattling on about rocks and things.”

“Someday, you might need to know what I'm talking about, too.”

Jack chuckled as he stopped, reaching out to grab his lover's shoulders, “Daniel, it would take a lifetime for me to know what you're talking about.”  Walking away from the younger man, he added, “Don't be late,” and then silently, **And, my love, I plan on taking that lifetime to study you.**

**You're so full of it today.**

**I love you, Angel.**

**I ... love you, too, you old looney toon.**

**Looney toon?**

**I can't decide who's worse -- you or Bugs Bunny ... and don't say it, Jack.**

**Er, sorry, Doc.  What's up?**

**Goodbye, Jack.**

**Love you, Danny.**

Silence.  Jack stopped, looked behind him and saw Daniel was nowhere in site.  He worried the young man had truly gotten angry with him, that years worth of “What's up, Doc?” had pushed Daniel to his limit.

**Danny?  Angel?**

More silence.  Maybe they were just too far away.  Still, it was disconcerting.  Jack was only teasing.  It was all he ever intended.  He didn't want to annoy Daniel, not for real.

**Danny?**

**Oh ... okay, I love you, too.  Now get back to work before I hire Elmer Fudd to stifle you.**

**Stifle?**

**JAAAAAAACK!**

**Bye.**

**Bye.**

====

“Okay, kids, everyone have their toys and trinkets ready to go?” Jack asked at the foot of the ramp as SG-1 gathered in the gate room.

Sam coughed, answering, “Ready, Sir.”

“Let's hit it!”

SG-1 walked through the Stargate to the planet designated P4X-639.

“Carter, need help?”

“I think I can handle it if Teal'c can help me place these in the proper places,” she said, her hands waving at the various pieces of equipment.

“Teal'c ...” Jack motioned to the Jaffa who went to join the major.

“Jack, the altar is up ahead.”

“I'll come with.”

“You don't need to babysit me, you know.”

“I know, but we haven't been here before, and I'd like to check it out.  Any problems with that?”

“No,” Daniel said, a small smile pursing his lips as they walked towards the altar.

At the center of the altar was a pedestal that appeared to have several sections on it written in another language.  As Daniel examined it, Jack checked the perimeter.  Hearing a noise, he turned quickly, aiming his weapon at the man approaching the altar.

“Hello.  I am Malikai.”

“Colonel Jack O'Neill, SG-1,” Jack said as he observed the alien.

He seemed harmless enough, but Jack knew Daniel would be spending quite a bit of time with this alien so he wanted to make sure he was as safe as possible.

“Is something wrong, Colonel?  The team that came here before was very nice.  They said you'd be bringing another archaeologist with you.”

“Yes, he's at the altar.”

“I'm anxious to meet him.”

“Yes, well ...” Jack relaxed his hold on his weapon and nodded over towards the ruins.  “Daniel,” he called out as they neared the area.

“Jack, this is fascinating,” Daniel said enthusiastically as he turned from the walls he was studying.  “Oh, hello.”

“I am Malikai.”

“I'm ... I'm Daniel Jackson.  I've been anxious to meet you.  Have you managed to translate any of this?” he asked, pointing to the writings on the wall.

“Some.”

“Well, you two ... have fun.  I'll be ... around.”

“Anything you say, Jack.  So, Malikai, how much ...”

Jack shook his head as he continued his check of the area.  Daniel looked happy enough, and a quick look over at his 2IC showed her prattling away at Teal'c.

~Yep.  SG-1's brains are having a super time.  Now, what should I do?~

====

“This is really interesting,” Daniel said as he took some paper and placed it over a section towards the top of the wall.

He rubbed hard against the section, creating an etching of the writing. Studying the drawing as he walked, he approached Malikai who was working at the pedestal.

“I've encountered this script before.  It's, uh, similar in pronunciation
to a language on our planet called Latin.  Now, as near as I can tell, the
main body of the text, uh, represents some kind of planetary history.”

“I agree,” Malikai said nervously, “but isn't it time for you to return
through the Stargate?”

Daniel assured his colleague that Sam would tell him when it was time to go.  He continued with his translation efforts.

“But ... what I don't understand is whatever the significance of this is ... some sort of ...” Daniel motioned to the pedestal, “... control mechanism.  It’s obviously still in working order compared to the rest of the ruin.  I wonder if that’s ... significant.”

Oblivious to Malikai's nervousness, Daniel continued to discuss the translations, Malikai eventually telling him, “You're a skilled linguist, Doctor Jackson.”

Daniel shyly acknowledged the compliment, indicating he'd been fortunate to hear the language spoken out loud “a year or so ago.”  He had a small smile on his face as he spoke.

A small device let out a noise, alerting Malikai that the peak of the geomagnetic storm was approaching.  Thinking all was well, Daniel was stunned when the alien suddenly pulled a weapon on him.

“I don't understand,” Daniel said just as Malikai fired, the silent blast knocking Daniel unconscious.

Malikai pulled Daniel off to the side, out of view from the other members of SG-1, and returned to the device and turned it on.  It was the act that would control the lives of SG-1, and all of Earth, for some time to come.

====

As Jack meandered down to where Sam and Teal'c were, he thought back over SG-15's mission reports, going over the details in his mind as he observed the planet's rocky terrain.  After a while, he looked up at the sun through special sunglasses and saw how strange it looked, with flares bouncing around the sun.  The planet was subject to periods of high solar radiation and seeing the current solar activity, his concern about their continuing presence mounted.

“Is it supposed to be doing that?” he asked his 2IC.

“It's a coronal mass emission, like a giant solar flare,” Sam explained.

“But it's safe, right?”

As she continued setting things up, Sam responded, “Well, that's what this equipment is designed to find out.  Apart from disrupting the planet's magnetic field, it might cause a significant increase in surface radiation.”

Jack repeated his question, “But it's safe, right?”

The major nodded, adding, “As long as we don't stay here too long, yes, Sir.”

“Anyone explain that to Daniel?”  ~Give Daniel an altar to translate, and he forgets everything else.~

A few minutes later, Sam, with Teal'c's assistance, finished setting up her equipment.  “All set up, Sir,” she informed her CO.

It was good timing as the geomagnetic storm had begun to worsen, and it was definitely time to leave.

Jack radioed Daniel, but didn't receive a response.  At that point, they began to hear charging sounds, loud crackling-like noises.  Then, the pillars near the Stargate began to arc with some kind of energy.  An electrical charge hit the Stargate, and the chevrons began to flicker.  Suddenly, the Gate activated, and the three members of SG-1 ducked to avoid the kawoosh as it engaged.

Jack looked towards the altar, shouting out, “Are you doing this?” to Malikai.

“Stay away” was the response from the alien archaeologist, but SG-1 hurried towards the pedestal anyway.

Jack immediately saw Daniel at the side of the ruin.  He and Teal'c both rushed Malikai.  At the same time, Sam ran to Daniel's side.

Jack's anger intensified as he fought the man, trying to get him away from the pedestal.

~If you've killed him, I'll kill you.~

Before anything else could happen, a bright light engulfed Jack, Teal'c, and Malikai, and the next thing Jack knew, he inexplicably found himself back where he had begun his day -- at the SGC about to eat a large spoonful of Froot Loops with Sam and Daniel sitting across from him at a table in the commissary.

Jack had the most incredible feeling of deja vu.  There he was, a heaping spoon of the colorful Froot Loops in his hand, and his lover, alive and well, was talking.  Just like before, Daniel's plate of waffles was partially eaten.  Then came the question, “Anyway, I’m sorry, but that just happens to be how I feel about it.  What do you think?”

Jack stared at his lover in surprise.  He knew this had already happened, and it shook him.  He ate a spoonful of cereal, still staring at Daniel and then at Sam who was seated next to the archaeologist.  Jack asked simply, “What?”

Repeating his question, Daniel asked, “What do you think?”

Seeing Jack staring all around, Sam became concerned.

“Colonel, is something wrong?” she asked.

“Maybe,” Jack answered.  “Weren’t we just somewhere else?”

Daniel thought the question was strange.

“Where?” he asked.

“Some planet.”

“When?”

“Just now.”

“No,” the young man answered.

Jack asked, “You sure?”

“Yeah.”

Confused, Jack put down his spoon and looked around.  After a moment, he stated, “Everything just changed.”

“Sir,we've been sitting in the commissary for the past half-hour.”

“Really?”

Daniel teased, “Well, it is understandable how you could have gotten the two places confused.”

Sam stood, after having glanced at her watch, “We’re gonna be late for the briefing.”

“Briefing?”

Daniel and Sam became concerned again.  Actually, the archaeologist wasn't sure if his soulmate was ill or just teasing him.  Both were possibilities at this point.

“Are you okay, or are you just trying to avoid answering my question?”

Jack responded, “I’m fine.  What question?”

He stood and exited, followed quickly by his teammates.

**Jack, are you really okay?**

Daniel walked next to Sam, but his focus was solely on the love of his life.

**Fine, Love.  I just want to get this briefing over with.**

**Why?**

**Ask me later.**

Jack knew something was off.  Everything seemed familiar, not just the events, but the words being spoken.  Yet, it wasn't until Sam got to her portion of the mission briefing for P4X-639 that he knew for sure.

Sam stood, discussing the pictures taken by SG-15 of the solar activity on P4X-639.

“MajorCarter, have we not previously been briefed concerning this matter?” Teal'c asked.

“I was just going to say that,” Jack added, feeling a bit saner knowing Teal'c also recalled having already gone through the briefing.

Jack and Teal'c stated their memories that the mission had already happened.

“I distinctly remember sitting here listening to Carter prattle on about solar activity and, a corona something.”

“Coronal mass emission.  I was just about to bring it up,” Sam explained.

Jack smirked, “There you go.  How would I know that?”

“Maybe you read my report?”

Daniel couldn't keep quiet.  Tapping his file on the table, and scrunching his face slightly for effect, he asked sarcastically, “Maybe he read your report?”

**Very funny, Daniel.**

**Gawd, I wish I could laugh out loud.**

After glaring at Daniel a bit longer, Jack reiterated, “I’m telling you guys, we've done this before.”

“I am in agreement with O’Neill,” Teal'c said.  “I am experiencing a great deal of familiarity with these events.”

The blare of the klaxons interrupted the meeting as the words “Unscheduled off-world activation” was heard over the PA system.  

Quickly, they headed for the control room where Jack surprised everyone by announcing, “It’s SG-12.”

Hammond was disbelieving, the whole thing a bit beyond his grasp at the moment.  He stated with confidence, “They’re not due back for days.”

However, once the GDO signal was received, it was confirmed that it was SG-12 returning.  Hammond ordered the iris opened, after which Teal'c stated, “One of them will be injured.”

Jack nodded his agreement, and sure enough, one of the returning team hobbled down the ramp supported by another teammate.  Hammond, Daniel and Sam were all stunned.

The general ordered Jack and Teal'c to undergo a physical examination. A bit later, he met with Sam to discuss the unusual turn of events, but she really didn't know anything yet.

====

 As Janet finished her check of Jack who sat on a hospital bed, Daniel stood just a foot away at the end of the bed, his arms folded.

“Okay, so Sam was setting up instruments and … where was I?”

“You were by the altar deal with the guy.”

“Right.  You’re gonna need to be a bit more specific.”

From the exam table behind Jack where he, too, was being examined by a nurse, Teal'c clarified, “Malikai.”

“That’s the alien archaeologist that SG-15 met on the first survey.  I was looking forward to meeting him,” Daniel said with a bit of anticipation.

Jack spoke enthusiastically, placing his hand on Daniel's arm as he spoke, “You did!  You got along swell.  Anyway, at some point, a beam shot out from the ruins around the altar and hit the Stargate.”

“It was a blinding flash of light,” Teal'c added mundanely as he removed a thermometer from his mouth.

“Then I was back in the commissary eating my Froot Loops.”

Hammond and Sam entered the infirmary, joining the others.  Janet informed the general she couldn't find anything wrong, and now it was a matter of waiting for the lab tests to come back.  With more questions than answers, Hammond decided to postpone the mission to the planet, the mission that both Jack and Teal'c knew had already happened.

“Sir, with your permission, I'm going to run some more computer checks.”

Hammond nodded.  He glanced at the others present, then turned, following Sam out of the infirmary.

“Well, if you two will excuse me, I have some things to do,” Janet said, leaving Jack and Daniel alone.

“Daniel, this isn't my imagination.”

“I believe you, Jack.”

Jack tilted his head just slightly as he allowed a small smile to appear on his face.  He hopped off the bed and looked into his lover's eyes.

“If anyone can get us out of this, it's you.”

“Me?  Jack, I don't even know what's going on.”

“You watch.  You'll save the day ... again.”

“Well, since you expect so much from me, I'd better get back to my office.  Maybe there's something in SG-15's report that will help.  I'll see you later.”

**Danny, I trust you.  I have faith in you, and believe me, if the answer is out there, you'll find it.**

**Jack, I ...**

The older man smiled.  Daniel had made a lot of progress during their years together, but he still got hung up on saying words of endearment first unless they were at home in the throes of passion or some other romantic situation.

**I love you, Danny.  Always.**

Daniel smiled gratefully.

**Love you, too, My Silver Fox.  Forever.**

Daniel blinked a couple of times, and then backed a few steps.  He turned and brushed against the doorway as he exited the infirmary.

~Geez, what you do to me.  Can't wait for that weekend at the beach.~

====

A while later, Jack was headed for his office when he looked expectantly at his watch.

~Time for Dannyboy to flag me down.  Crap!  How do I know that?  More deja vu?  Premonitions?  Geez, O'Neill, you're giving yourself a headache.  This can't be the first time because you know Danny is about to show up.  It's not a hunch.  I know it.  It's happened before.~

Sure enough, seconds later, Daniel hurried around the corner, his hands full of papers.

“Jack, wait up.”

Jack turned, and waited as Daniel approached.  The archaeologist spoke rapidly in front of his friend, barely taking the necessary seconds to breathe.

“Um, I was thinking about what you said about a ...  a beam coming out of the altar.  Now SG-15 took digital images of the carvings on the ruins.”  Daniel handed some photos to Jack as he continued.  “I was thinking that there might be some sort of a clue in here about what’s going on.  Unfortunately, it’s the equivalent of about four-hundred pages of alien text, but, uh, if you could give me more details about the layout of the alien ruins, it might be useful …”

Daniel's comments were cut off when Sergeant Siler, head down as he read some papers, bumped into the archaeologist who fell backwards onto the floor, the images and papers scattering everywhere.

“Gee, sorry, Doctor Jackson,” Siler apologized as he and a Marine helped Daniel up.

Jack stood by smugly, and said to no one in particular, “Should have seen that coming.”  ~I should have.  I know it's happened before.  Danny is so going to kill me for letting it happen again.  Oh, wait, that's the beauty of the time loops.  He won't remember!~

“Are you okay, Doctor Jackson?” Siler asked once Daniel was back on his feet.

“I'm ... fine.  Thanks.”

Siler apologized again and walked off, and that's when Daniel noticed Jack's expression, the small, knowing smile.

“What?”

“Nothing.  I didn't say a word.”

“No, you didn't, Jack, but you've got that look.”

“What look?”

“That one that says you're up to something.”

“Daniel, I was just standing here, listening to you prattle ...”

“Prattle?”

Jack decided that perhaps 'prattle' wasn't the best word to use, so he changed his choice of words, “I was listening to you ... talk.  What could possibly cause me to look funny?”

“You thought it was funny that Siler knocked me down.”

“I did not.”

“Yes, you did.”

“Did not.”

“Oh, yes, you did, Colonel.  Excuse me.  I have work to do.  Here,” Daniel handed his papers to Jack, “if you want to solve the mystery of ... of ... of whatever is going on, you go right ahead.  As for me, frankly, I think you've just eaten one Froot Loop too many!”

Daniel stormed off, leaving Jack a bit bewildered.  He looked around, not sure what to do with the papers.  Finally, he headed to his office, plopped them down into a drawer, and then decided that arguing with Daniel had made him hungry, so he headed for the commissary.

Soon after he sat down, Sam arrived and teased him, asking if he knew what she was about to say.

Tapping his watch, Jack explained, “Actually, by this time we were on the planet.  It’s all different now.”

“Oh, well, I was thinking about what you said about a beam hitting the Stargate.”

“What about it?”

“After the flash, you found yourself back here, and then you were basically reliving the moments up to the mission.  Maybe you're not remembering future events.  Maybe you were sent back in time.”

“For what ... six hours?” Jack asked, wondering what the reason for that could be.

“Well, it wouldn't be the first time we've seen something like this.  I mean, the Stargate did send us back to 1969.”

Jack smiled as he spoke -- “Good year.”

“So I was wondering,” Sam thought out loud, “Could this beam you mentioned be a means to access the Gate's subspace field in order to create some kind of time inversion outside of subspace?”

Jack stared at her blankly.  Sam realized she wasn't going to get any help from her CO.  She excused herself to run some simulations to test her theory.

Shortly thereafter, Jack headed for Hammond's office where he was joined by Teal'c.  Upon their arrival, he noticed Hammond was reviewing the results of Janet's tests.

“The lab results confirm Doctor Fraiser's original assessment.  You’re both in perfect health.  Any more of these premonitions?”

“Not for some time,” Teal'c answered.

Jack asked, “Can we go back to work, General, please?”

The general began to agree when another unscheduled off-world activation call drew them all to the control room.  Jack let out a Homer Simpson-like “D'oh!” as he followed Hammond and Teal'c.

As they stood in the control room, watching the arcing of electricity consuming the Stargate, Hammond asked, “What is that?”

A technician responded, “I’m not sure, Sir.  I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Jack spoke with a resignation in his voice, “We have.”

Seconds later, they were all engulfed in the blinding light, and the next thing Jack knew, he was back in the commissary, eating his Froot Loops -- again.

Daniel's words repeated, “Anyway, I’m sorry, but that just happens to be how I feel about it.  What do you think?”

Jack put down his spoon as he sat back in his chair.  He looked perplexed, almost stunned, and checked his watch.

“Colonel, something wrong?” Sam asked.

“Oh yeah, something.”

====

The current loop proceeded much like the last.  As the briefing began, Jack jumped up, surprising everyone with the news about what had been occurring.  Nothing much changed, and once again, Jack and Teal'c underwent examinations.  The only real unique moment at this point happened when Jack was walking down the hallway.  It wasn't so much something new as it was a continuation.

“Prattle?”

“Yes, prattle.  You and Carter both have degrees in prattling, but it's okay because I happen to like listening to you prattle.”

“Jack, if I didn't know better ...” Daniel paused, carefully gauging his lover's look, “...and I do know better.  If this repeating time thing is true, then you knew I was about to be knocked over.”  Jack tried to look innocent, but his mouth deceived him, a small smile escaping.  “Very funny, Colonel O'Neill.”

“I did not know what was going to happen,” Jack bantered a bit defensively.

“Yes, you did.”

“Did not.”

“Jack, you know perfectly well you did!”

“Daniel, I ... oh, okay, but ...”

**But what?  You enjoy watching me get hurt?**

**You didn't get hurt.**

**Would you like to take a dive onto this floor?  It's not exactly soft!**

**Daniel, don't blow this out of proportion.**

**Oh, don't you worry, Jack.  I won't be blowing anything of yours for quite some time.**  “Now, if you'll excuse me.  I have work to do.  Here,” Daniel handed his papers to Jack, “if you want to solve the mystery of ... of ... whatever is happening, you go right ahead.  As for me, frankly, I think you've just eaten one Froot Loop too many!”

As he had done in the last loop, Daniel stormed off, leaving Jack a bit bewildered, only this time, Jack knew what to do with the papers.  Stopping at the first waste basket, he tossed the images and papers in and walked onward to get something to eat.

The loop continued to play out, mimicking the last loop, including Sam's teasing, until Jack realized that he hadn't had any quality “alone time” with his lover in over a day.  He headed for Daniel's office, and upon entering, he locked the door and shut off the security equipment.

The archaeologist was standing in front of a lab table, staring at nothing.

“Hey,” Jack said softly, moving in to wrap his arms around the younger man's waist.

“We had a fight, Jack.  What makes you think you can just waltz in here and ...”

Daniel's words were silenced by a kiss on his nape that turned his thoughts away from their argument in the hallway and towards more important things.  He turned around and began to kiss his lover.

“Now that's more like it,” Jack said, “but, for the record, I'm sorry.”

“Jack, are you sure about this ... premonition, or deja vu, or whatever it is?”

“Danny, let it go.  It's been a whole day.”

“No, it hasn't.  It was just ... oh.  It just seems like it was just this morning.”

“This morning was a long time ago, and I miss you.”

“I guess this isn't easy for you.”

Jack leaned his forehead against Daniel's and whispered softly, “I love you.”

They might have been tempted to get more intimate, but at that point, Daniel's phone rang, requesting Jack's presence.

“It's going to begin again.”

“We'll find a way out, Jack.”

“I'll try not to be such a bear, but I'm already ...”

“Grizzly?”

“It's frustrating, Danny.”

“We'll get through it.”

Jack saw Daniel's total belief ... a belief in Jack that he'd lead the way that would enable them to free themselves from reliving the same period of time over and over.  ~Geez, the faith you have in me, but it'll be you, Love.  I know you'll solve the puzzle.~

“See you later.  I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

Jack started to exit, but he stopped.  His hand was on the door handle, and he looked down, staring at it.

“Jack?”

Hesitantly, Jack looked at his lover.  His eyes were soft, and his voice tentative.

“Danny, you do believe me about this ... time business?”

“Of course, I believe you.”

“You sure?  I know it sounds like an episode of 'The Twilight Zone' or something.”

Daniel walked to the man he loved and kissed him.

“Jack, you embellish when you want to, but you wouldn't make something like this up ... not on this scale anyway,” Daniel said with a smile.  “I won't pretend to understand what's going on.  I don't have enough information or facts ... yet, but ...,” Daniel placed his right palm on Jack's cheek, “I know you.  I ... believe ... you.  I don't have a single doubt in my mind.  I also know that you'll make sure we get out of this.”

Daniel leaned forward for a gentle kiss.

“I just needed to know.  I remember a couple years ago, I ... didn't do a good job at believing you when I should have.”

“Quantum mirrors were new to us then.”

“Don't let me off the hook, Danny.  I've always believed in you, but sometimes, I've been slow on the uptake for ... other things, even when there was no other explanation, and now, here we are, and you just ... believe me.”

“I love you, Jack.  You wouldn't lie to me.”

Jack shook his head in total disbelief at the amazing man that stood in front of him.

“You know I don't deserve you?”

“Mmmm,” Daniel mumbled, as if thinking about it.  “I'm keeping you anyway.”

“Promise?”

Daniel smiled at their brief role reversal.  Normally, it was he looking for the guarantees.  Jack's vulnerability, almost more than any tangible fact, is exactly what made him believe his soulmate so firmly.  He could sense the desperate need for support, so Daniel gave his affirmation as best he could.

“I promise.  Forever and always.”

After another kiss, Jack headed for the general's office.  He felt calmer than he had in the previous loops, and he realized that was because Daniel truly believed him.  He wouldn't repeat the discussion again, but when he looked at his lover from that point onward, he saw only faith and trust; there wasn't a doubt in the young man's body.

The loop finally concluded, the flash of light eventually engulfing everyone, triggering yet another rerun of time.

====

That's how it had begun, many loops ago.  Along with Jack, Teal'c also continued to remember their recurring sessions, but they were the only two.  For everyone else, all events and conversations were fresh and new.

With the start of each loop, they first had to convince their colleagues that they weren't mentally or physically ill.  Still, every time, General Hammond ordered them to undergo a physical exam.  Jack and Teal'c were about as tired of the infirmary as they'd ever been, and after a few weeks worth of loops, they still didn't know why they were the only two who knew they were reliving events over and over again.

One event that had been constant during the early loops was Daniel catching up with Jack to show him “four hundred pages of alien text.” Each time, they'd be interrupted by Sergeant Siler crashing into the archaeologist, but what they had learned was that the writings on the ruins that were on the altar and pedestal was a “variation of the writings used by the Ancients,” according to Daniel who had studied the digital photos brought back by SG-15.  The trick was to figure out how to get Daniel beyond that point, but Jack knew he was only human and could do just so much during one cycle of time.

As Jack sat in his office, he felt more alone than he had felt in a long time.  The loops were taking their toll on him.  He was tired of all the explanations, the physical exams, the redundancy of the events, and more than anything else, he missed his lover, being able to hold him, kiss him, and just ... touch and be touched.

All Jack knew now was that time was going around in circles, and the result was that he had spent very little time with Daniel, and when he did, it was spent rehashing what had happened.  He wanted, no, he needed, more.  Looking at his watch, Jack decided it was time.

~What the heck!  We'll just start over again.~

The Air Force colonel made a beeline for his destination, and making sure things were secure, he swooped down on his unsuspecting partner and began to devour him.  Daniel didn't fight it at all.  He found himself drawn to Jack's needs.

Jack lowered his lover to the cot that was in the young man's office.  As he was about to become lost in Daniel, in making love, Daniel said something that disarmed Jack to complete stillness.

“Jack, love you.  We haven't done this in months.  Remember?  Gawd, it was so great.”  Seeing Jack's stunned expression, Daniel asked, “What's wrong?”

“Oh, Danny,” Jack lowered his head, hanging it over his lover's chest until finally he rested it there.

Daniel put his arms around his soulmate's body and tugged him close with a gentle hold.

“What's wrong?”

“I do remember that last time.  It was ... wild and daring, and we shouldn't have done it, but we did and ...”

“And what?”

“And we both remember.”

“I don't understand.”

Jack raised up to gaze into Daniel's eyes.

“Angel, you won't remember this.  I can't do that.  It's ... not fair to you.”

Jack stood up and walked over to Daniel's desk.  He leaned his arms against the edge, pushing down on the hard surface with his hands.  He felt closed in, certain the walls were caving in on him.  His heart seemed to be in his throat.

“Jack,” Daniel said as he walked over and encircled his lover with his strong, comforting arms, “It's ... okay.  I mean, it's my choice.”

Jack turned, staring into Daniel's eyes, and then he kissed him, long and hard.

“No, Danny.  You don't understand, not really.  You won't remember this, any of it.  Who knows how long this is going to last?  It's already been forever, and when we get out, it'll be like a normal day to you.  We'll go home and ... and ... geez, where were we going?”

“The beach.  We're taking the weekend off.”

“Daniel, for me, that was weeks ago.  I've ... lost track how long we've been going through this craziness,” Jack said with a cracked voice.  “How can I be that selfish, to have weeks or months of memories that you won't have at all?  I can't do it.  I love you too much.”

Unable to stand his torture any longer, Jack turned and exited.  The loop would start over soon -- he hoped, and when it did, he would make sure not to get involved in any personal time with Daniel, no matter how hard it was.

====

Jack threw himself into trying to find the answer, which he believed was with Malikai.  Finally, he managed to convince Hammond to let SG-1 go back through the Stargate to the planet to try and stop whatever had happened from occurring again.

Once again wearing their desert BDUs, the team walked through the circular device.  All but Teal'c wore their sunglasses, and both Jack and Sam wore their non-regulation caps.  The sun continued to act as strangely, just as it had on their first visit, with thunder sounding woefully in the distance.

“A geomagnetic storm is building up.  We shouldn't stay long,” Sam warned after checking one of her portable devices.

“That's the machine right there,” Jack said, indicating the pedestal several yards ahead.

“I wonder how it works,” Sam stated, curiosity filling her mind.

“Substance fields and time inversions,” Jack answered, then looking at his 2IC, “That's what you said.”

They continued to walk towards the pedestal when Malikai appeared to the side of the machine and greeted them.

Jack instantly aimed his weapon at the alien archaeologist, as did Sam.

Daniel startled slightly at the instant “ready” stance of his teammates.

“Whoa, easy, guys.”

“That’s the guy; that’s the one who started all this,” Jack said, his voice full of frustration at the recurring time loops.

The alien responded, “I don't understand.”

“Whatever you did, I want you to undo it.”

“I did nothing!”

Sam intervened, “Colonel, I don't think he knows what you're talking about.”

“Perhaps he has no memory, O’Neill,” Teal'c offered.

Full of accusation, Jack smirked, “Oh, he remembers.  He’s the one who was pushing all of those buttons.”

Jack had a momentary thought of gaining revenge for his torture.  ~One bullet and he'd be one dead archaeologist.  Archaeologist.  Daniel.  Crap.  Okay, O'Neill.  Toughen up.  Prove your point another way.~

“Please, I’m an archaeologist,” Malikai explained as he moved to the pedestal, the large table in between the alien and SG-1.  “I’ve been trying to translate these alien symbols.  I … I told the others who came before you.”

Jack also moved forward, cautiously, his MP-5 still directed at Malikai.

“SG-15?” Daniel asked, moving forward slightly.

“Yes, but they didn't point weapons at me.  I can show you my notes.”

As Malikai reached for his bag at the side of the machine, Jack made a noise indicating for the alien to freeze his motions.  The leader of SG-1 moved aggressively forward and searched the bag, pulling out a weapon.

Malikai continued to talk as Jack pulled out a gun from the bag.  Accusation in his voice, he asked, “What kind of archaeologist carries a weapon?”

Daniel stepped forward, raising his hand, and answered, “Er, I do.”

Jack paused, finally admitting, “Bad example.”

Next, Jack found an image of the man's wife.  At that point, the stones on the pedestal began to move, the machine activating.  The pillars again arced.

“What'd you do?” Jack pointedly asked his 2IC.

Sam answered, “I didn't do anything.  It engaged on its own.”

Jack barked, “Turn it off.”

“How?”

Malikai stated, “It’s drawing energy from the ionization in the atmosphere.  There’s nothing Major Carter can do.”

Jack had the archaeologist now, the proof he needed, not that he really needed it.

“Excuse me?” he asked, “How’d you know her name?”

“You told me.”

“No, I didn't, not this time around.”

Realizing he'd been found out, Malikai lowered his hands, smugly stating, “It doesn't matter.  You’re too late.”

“How do you shut this thing off?”

Malikai refused to help, and Sam could do little more than report the pedestal was building up energy, so Jack turned to Daniel.

“Daniel, you know how to read this stuff.  Get up here, and shut it off.”

Daniel moved forward, but was at a loss.  “What?”  Now at the pedestal itself, he continued, “Are you kidding me?  I wouldn't even know where to begin.  I mean, it would take years to translate.  I don't even have any decent reference materials.  I don't even have enough …”

Another time loop began, Jack eating yet another bite of Froot Loops.  He rubbed his forehead with his hand and then moaned, “Oh for crying out loud, I'm sick and tired of this.”

“Jack, it was only a question.”

“Huh?  Not that, Daniel, this friggin' repeating time thing.”

“Sir?” Sam asked, her eyes wide and expression surprised.

“We've done this, Carter.”

Seeing the questioning looks, Jack simply stood up and headed for the briefing.

A few hours into the loop, Jack was alone in his office.  He'd already gone through the briefing, the exam with Janet, the “alien text” scenario with Daniel, and was again at a point where things were new, because instead of going to the commissary, he had retreated to his office.

Sitting at his desk, Jack stared into space, lost in his thoughts until he heard a tap at his door.

“Come in.”

“I am in,” Daniel said, locking the door behind him and then heading for Jack's desk, reaching in for the remote and turning off the recording devices.

“Danny, I don't ...”

Two fingers of Daniel's left hand placed over Jack's mouth silenced the older man.  He whispered, “Shhh,” as he bent over and kissed his lover.

Jack moaned from the feel and his need, pulling Daniel down towards his lap, but it was awkward, and their hunger was growing each second.  Daniel lowered himself to the floor, tugging the older man towards him until both were in a prone position.

“I love you, Danny.  Need you.  Geez, I need you,” Jack gasped as they rolled around on the floor a couple of times, hitting the wall as they moved.

“You need a bigger office.”

“Tell Hammond.”

Daniel had ended up on top.  He nibbled for a second on Jack's upper lip, then ran his tongue along the older man's lips, finally sliding into Jack's mouth.  At the same time, his right hand moved to reach inside his lover's green BDU pants.

“No.”

Daniel was positive he was hearing things, so he ignored the word, his hand stroking the shaft he wanted dearly.

“No, Danny.”

“Wha...what?”

Daniel stopped, looking at Jack in surprise.  Jack shifted, moving so that he was sitting up on his legs, his knees still touching the floor.  It hurt slightly, but he didn't care.  He brought Daniel up to the same place so they could easily see each other's eyes.  Jack hated this time loop.  He had just hurt Daniel.  Sure, the young man would never remember, but Jack would.  He hated himself.

“Danny, please listen.  You won't remember this.  Coming here, making love.  It'll be a memory for ... for one, and I can't let you do that.”

“I want you.”

“Angel, I love you so much.  I want you more than you know.  It seems like forever since I've held you, but we can't, Daniel.”

“It's my choice.”

Jack shook his head as he spoke, “If you were me, you'd see it differently.  Right now, if you're the one going through this, you'd have to be the responsible one and ...”

“Are you saying I'm not responsible?”

“Daniel,” Jack cupped his lover's face.  “Please, I don't want to argue.  I'm trying to protect you, both of us.”

“By keeping us apart?”

Jack sighed, and then he nodded, almost whispering, “I think it's best.”

“I don't believe you; that it's best ... for you or me.”

“Danny ...”

Daniel stood, adjusting his clothes slightly.  He walked to Jack's desk and simply stood there, totally silent.  Jack walked up to him, placing his arms around him.

“I want you.  You have no idea how much.”  Silence continued, but before Jack could try and right it, he heard the klaxons blare.

Daniel started to check on it, but Jack pulled him back.

“It's SG-12, and don't say it.  The loop is ending.  Danny, I love you with all my heart.”

Jack kissed his lover, long and hard, and was pleased the archaeologist didn't fight him.  It was a kiss that he was counting on to get him through until the loop end.  He couldn't risk hurting his partner again.

Suddenly, Jack was back in the commissary, and again, Daniel asked the question.

**I love you, Angel.**

Daniel was confused.  The silent communication seemed almost painful.

**I love you, too.  Jack, what's wrong?**

**Everything.**

====

During the current loop, Jack's hopelessness and frustration at the situation magnified.  He'd about had it with the recurring time bit.  He wanted it to end, and he was positive that the answer was with Daniel and his four hundred pages of alien text, so once the preliminaries were over, he and Teal'c immediately went to Daniel's office where they talked about the writings on the altar and their potential implications.

They'd already had this discussion numerous times, and Jack was about to explode from the repetitiveness and slow-moving progress.  There had to be something more, but he had no idea what.

“I’ve managed to translate a section of the west wall,” indicating a display on his computer, “It appears to be some sort of planetary history.”

“Daniel, that’s very nice, but focus on the altar.”

“Why?” Daniel asked as he twirled the pen he held between both of his hands.

“Malikai initiated the time loop by manipulating the symbols on the surface,” Teal'c explained.

“Figure out the symbols, figure out how to stop this,” Jack instructed forcefully.

Daniel responded, “Just because someone can recognize symbols on a keyboard doesn't mean they can run a computer.  If I can translate the rest of the text, I can put the device into proper context and figure out what it’s supposed to do.”

“We know what it does!” Jack exclaimed, totally frustrated.  “It’s a time loop machine.”

Daniel tried to get Jack to use logic, “Uh … Think about it.  Who would build a device that loops time every ten hours?”

“Who knows, but that’s what it does,” Jack said in his raised and aggravated voice.”

“Yes, but maybe that’s not what it’s supposed to do.  I mean, for all we know, this is just an accidental by-product of its true function.”

They were interrupted by a call from Sam.  She had a theory that the loop was begun by the strange phenomena that happened when the Stargate was dialed by the planet.  Her idea was to dial out before the machine on the planet could dial in.  Unfortunately, the last chevron would not engage.  Sam was totally stymied.

“This doesn't make any sense.  There is nothing wrong on our end.  We should have been able to dial out.”

She looked at her CO who waved his hand at her in a “goodbye” motion and then a new time loop began ... and another ... and another.

Once again in Daniel's office, Jack and Teal'c attempted to get Daniel's help.

“Just because someone can recognize the symbols on a keyboard doesn't mean they can run a computer,” Daniel stated, his words interrupted by Jack who waved his hands in front of the younger man.

“We’ve been over this!  I’m telling you, the only way to stop this loop,” Jack paused and touched the appropriate spots on Daniel's touch screen monitor to bring up the text on the alien machine, “is to figure out how to run that stuff.”

Jack's tone was very aggressive.  The time loops were beginning to affect him to the point that he was losing his sense of humor.  His patience, what there was of it, was on the verge of total depletion.

**Jack, don't yell at me.  It's not my fault that whatever is happening is happening.**  “If we really have had this conversation before, then I probably pointed it out to you that there’s no way I can translate this entire text in less than a day.”

Jack was confident and smug in his next response, “Oh, I am so ahead of you.”  He pulled out a tape recorder.  “I put the whole thing on tape last time so you don't have to start from scratch.”

Unfortunately, after pressing “play,” nothing happened.  Jack banged the recorded against a table.

Though not pleased with Jack's tone in the current conversation, Daniel spoke a bit softly, knowing his lover was truly aggravated.  He had to admit he felt sorry for Jack.  He knew this wasn't a game, and truly wished he could comfort the older man now.

“If what you say is true, then when the loop started again, your recording wouldn't have happened … yet.”

Jack was totally frustrated, and after a bit more discussion, Daniel finally gave him the bottom line.

“Look, if you guys are the only ones with memories of previous loops, then you're going to have to help me by learning and remembering,” Daniel spread his hands out at the table full of alien text images that he needed to translate.

Jack stared at the table.  He had no choice.  “Fine,” he said, picking up one of the images.  “How hard can it be?”

Daniel said nothing, but took the image Jack was holding and turned it around.  Jack had been looking at it upside down.

“Look, we need to start with basic Latin.  There are some good books in the library.  Teal'c, I'll call Jeannette and let her know what books we'll need.  Can you go get them, please?”

“As you wish, DanielJackson.”

“Thank you, Teal'c.”

When the Jaffa left, Daniel closed the door, locking it.  He also turned off the security devices in his office.

“Daniel ...”

“Jack,” the young man interrupted his lover, “you need to listen to me.  I know that whatever this is, whatever we're all experiencing, is hard on you ... and I'm sure it's no picnic for Teal'c either, but Jack, don't take it out on me.  I need your help to get us out of this, but if you're going to have an attitude with me, then you can figure it out on your own.”

Jack sighed.  He walked up to Daniel and put his arms around him.

“I'm sorry.  You're right.  It's not your fault, Danny.  I'm just ... Daniel, this has been going on awhile, and it's ... it's getting to me.  I shouldn't have raised my voice.  I'll ... try to be better in ... future loops.”

“Oh ... well, then, we'd better do this while we can,” Daniel moved forward to engage his lover in a passionate kiss.

“I love you, Angel.”

“I love you, too.  I need to call Jeannette, and then I figure we'll have about ten minutes before Teal'c gets back.  Any ideas what we can ... do in that time?”  Jack grinned causing his soulmate to smile.  “I was hoping you'd say that!”

====

Sam had finally been able to develop enough information to come up with a theory.  She explained it to the general using a screen to display her idea visually.

“According to Colonel O’Neill, in a previous loop, we attempted to block the connection with P4X-639, but we were unable to dial out.  I think what’s happened is that the Earth has become, in a sense, out of sync with the rest of the Gate's system, making it impossible for us to establish contact with these worlds.”

“What about SG-12?  They managed to gate in,” Hammond inquired.

“I realize that, so we ran a sequence of random dialings, and this is what we found.”  Sam lit up a display.  “These are the worlds we were able to contact, including Alaris, the planet where SG-12 was doing its survey.  At the center of this group is P4X-639.  I believe that the alien device is establishing a simultaneous connection to all these Gates, creating a kind of subspace bubble, and that everything within the bubble is cut off from the normal flow of time.”

Hammond asked, “What are the implications of this?”

“Well, Sir, we could be reliving the same day over and over, maybe thousands of times, and we'd never know it.”

Sam informed the general that in the end, it came down to Jack and Teal'c spending loop after loop learning Latin in order to help Daniel translate the alien text.  It would be up to them to save the Earth from spending forever in the same, redundant time loop.

====

As Daniel wrote on the blackboard, Jack read from a book called, “Latin for the Novice.”  He read several words aloud before finally putting the book down and placing his hands on his head.  He whined, “This is a bad idea.”

“It would appear we have no choice,” Teal'c responded, and a minute later, a new loop began.

Daniel was again at the blackboard, translating as he wrote, “Section twenty-three ends with a reference to perennial inventus,” but Jack cut him off, his frustration coming through loud and clear.

“We’ve been over this.”

More calmly, Teal'c explained, “I believe it means 'the approaching disaster'.”

Yet another loop began, Daniel at the blackboard again as he worked, “On the machine itself ... with recurring use, the machine surrenders to the rigors of time …” but this time Teal'c cut short Daniel's words.

“That is incorrect, DanielJackson.”

Daniel looked at his two teammates, surprise on his face.

Very casually and confidently, Jack stated, “The word 'abiceerum' means 'to give up', not 'surrender'.”

Daniel stared for a moment, amazed at his friend's knowledge, but then he accepted their comments and moved on.  Soon, another time loop began.

====

Jack was tired.  He realized that with each loop, he rarely slept.  He didn't understand how his body could still be so alert, or anyone else's for that matter.

~I'm tired.~

Yet, it wasn't a physical weariness, but a mental one.  He needed a break, so after setting things in motion, Jack retreated to the commissary where he planned on spending the next few hours relaxing.  He didn't want to think anymore, needing some peace.  Even the brief respite of teaching Teal'c how to juggle over the past several loops had lost its appeal and pleasurable aspects.

He sat alone, not eating, just sitting.

~I miss Danny.  It's getting harder not to take advantage.  He's willing.  He says he is, so why don't I ... No, I have to live with myself when this is over, but ... what if we never get out of this?  Geez, I think I may just go crazy if this doesn't end soon.~

Teal'c entered a short while later and asked if they shouldn't be helping Daniel, but Jack stated calmly, “I'm taking this loop off,” adding that he was on the verge of going “wacko.”  To demonstrate his point, he drew a smiley face on his plate using the catsup and mustard bottled condiments from the table.

True to his word, Jack spent the rest of the loop snacking on all kinds of desserts.

~The beauty of the time loop -- I won't gain a pound.~

====

More loops passed, some six hours, some ten, and some in between, with Daniel working diligently on the translation, Jack and Teal'c assisting with knowledge only they had.  As they progressed through the alien text, they had discovered a section that dealt with the alien's arrival on P4X-639, a reference to a gradual degeneration of the machine itself, and to a foundation of a colony.

In the current loop, Teal'c was taking his turn at the blackboard, writing down various meanings of words and phrases learned from previous sessions, while Daniel sat at a work table making notes.  Jack was by Daniel's side, having just finished his turn with the chalk.

The colonel wasn't sure how much longer he could keep it up.  Being with Daniel was hard.  With Teal'c almost always around, it only added to the difficulty.  He couldn't reach over and touch Daniel's hand, or even share a knowing smile with his lover.  He had to be on guard every second of the loop.

Though Jack's physical body was rejuvenated at the start of each time period, his mind was weary.  As he sat, he made a noise of frustration, one that begged the nightmare to end.  Then, he leaned back in his chair and put his hands to his face.

Seeing the fatigue of his lover, Daniel asked, “Exactly how many of these loops have you … have we been through?”

“I’ve lost track.”

“That must be frustrating.”

“Ah … yeah!” Jack responded, thinking it was obvious and a bit of a ridiculous comment by the younger man.

“On the other hand, it’s kind of an opportunity.”

“How’s that?”

“Well, think about it.  I mean if you knew in advance that everything is always going to go back to the way it was, then ... you could do anything for as long as you want without having to worry about consequences.”

It was like lightning had struck as Jack suddenly realized what Daniel was saying.  His mind racing with the possibilities, Jack stood and said, “Excuse me.”

Teal'c was close behind, having overheard the conversation and having the same epiphany as his CO.

For the next several loops, Jack entertained himself doing things he'd either wanted to for devious, playful reasons, or that he was truly interested in, but had never had time to do.  Among the different things he did was to learn pottery, ride his bicycle along the corridors of the SGC, and play golf with Teal'c in the gate room, hitting the balls through an active Stargate.

In one loop, his manhood got the better of him.  He had overheard some airmen speculating what it would be like to kiss a few of the prettier SGC personnel, among them Samantha Carter.  Jack laughed at the notion.

Then, as he was walking by the infirmary, he glanced in casually and saw something that stopped him in his tracks.

“Teal'c, my goodness.  What was that for?” Janet said, trying to recover from the gigantic kiss he had just given her.

“You are a beautiful woman, DoctorFraiser.  I am honored to have kissed you.”

“Yes, well, how about letting a girl return the favor?”

Jack stifled a chuckle as the petite women then planted a kiss on the Jaffa that got his circulation going full tilt.  The colonel made a discreet exit, lurking in the corridor until the Jaffa exited.

“Teal'c, old buddy, what was that about?  You interested in the Doc?”

Teal'c inclined his head slightly as he spoke.

“She is an honorable human being.  She is ... perky, as the Tau'ri say.  I have also kissed MajorCarter, Private Lohan, Sergeant ...”

“Whoa, Teal'c.  I get the idea.  Why?”

“Why not, O'Neill?  They do not remember.”

“Don't you feel, oh, I don't know ... guilty?”

“They have all thanked me, O'Neill.  In fact, they have all ...”

“Okay, definitely don't go any further.  I get the idea.”

The two started to walk away.  Jack glanced over at the smiling Jaffa.

“Carter, too?”

Teal'c's smile grew.  Then, he excused himself, saying, “I promised MajorCarter I would ... surprise her again.”

Nearly in shock, Jack watched his friend walk away.  He laughed.  Then he remembered the gossiping airmen.

~Why should Teal'c have all the fun?~

Jack figured he had nothing to lose.  Surely if Teal'c was doing it, there was nothing wrong with having a bit of manly fun.  Of course, he wasn't thinking clearly, the recurring loops taking its toll on his rational thinking.  Or perhaps, he just missed Daniel.

In the past several loops, he had only seen his lover briefly, at the beginning in the commissary, then in the briefing where Jack and Teal'c did their spiel about the loops, for a few moments in the infirmary, and lastly, just long enough to get Daniel involved with the translations and alien text, something that now took only a few minutes.  Then, Jack and Teal'c had more or less gotten lost to go have their fun.

~C'mon, O'Neill, what red-blooded male wouldn't do this?~

Wearing civvies, and not wanting to do anything that would get him a dishonorable discharge even during a time loop, Jack entered the gate room, checking his watch to make sure the timing was right.

“Excuse me, George,” Jack said, handing Hammond a piece of paper.

“Colonel, what are you doing out of uniform?”

“Handing you my resignation.”

Sam stood and asked, “Resigning?  What for?”

“So I can do,” Jack verified the time with his watch, “this.”

He planted a huge kiss on the blonde major just as the time loop ended, and took him once again to the commissary, eating his Froot Loops, only this time with a smile on his face.

~Danny is going to kill me.  Wait.  No, he won't.  He doesn't know, and we're in a new loop, so it's like it never happened.  Don't mess it up, O'Neill.  You had your fun.  Get that grin off your face.  It's just like when you were a kid and glued Sue Ann Hopple's shoes to the floor.~

Sam asked, “What are you smiling at?”

“Nothing.”  ~Get real, O'Neill.  Danny is gonna catch on in about ...~

**Jack, what's so funny?**

**Nothing, Angel.  I love you.**

**Yeah.  Right.**

Jack quickly removed the smile and stopped looking at his 2IC.  It was going to be a long, cold time loop otherwise.

“So, time for the briefing,” Jack attempted to say in an amused tone.

“Yes, Sir,” Sam replied, getting up and heading out of the infirmary.

Jack followed her until he heard the mental, **Just one minute, Jack.**

The colonel turned around to see Daniel's glare.

“Coming, Daniel?”

**No, not for a very long time, O'Neill, unless you explain that ... that ... look you had on your face.**

“Briefing, Daniel.”

Jack tried to ignore the telepathic-like comments, but his lover wasn't about to let him off the hook that easily.

“We have a couple of minutes before it starts.”  Daniel approached his lover.  “So, Jack, are you going to tell me what it is you did or said that ...”

“Daniel, are you implying ...”

“You'd better believe it.”

“Yeah, well.  As much as I'd LOVE to explain it to you, that briefing is about to start.  Let's go ... and that's an order, Daniel.”

The young man's eyes were dark with anger.

**Don't order me, Jack O'Neill.**

**Fine, Love, but I'm going to the briefing, and I'll let YOU explain to General Hammond why you're still in the commissary eating your waffles!**

Jack smiled, did a double step on his heels, and then headed for the meeting.

**You do that, and I'll let you explain the real reason why you couldn't attend that conference last weekend.**

**Daniel, you wouldn't.**

**Yes, I would.**

**Dirty pool.**

**You started this.**

**I did not.**

**You did, too.**

**I'm not bantering with you in our brains.  It's too ... confusing,** Jack relayed.

Daniel stood, arms folded, glaring.  Passerbys gave the two of them funny looks because neither man had said a word in over a minute, and yet they were locked onto each other as if they were fighting.  Daniel seemed oblivious to it, but Jack was beginning to feel uncomfortable.

**ALL RIGHT!  We're in a time loop, and I kissed Carter.  Now, let's go to the briefing.**

**Gawd, Jack.  You could come up with a better lie.**

Daniel shook his head and walked away.

“Lie?  I do not lie, and it wasn't a lie, Daniel.”

The two walked rapidly, trading barbs all the way to the briefing room.  Back at the commissary, two airmen, Ed Smith and Karla Johanson, looked very confused.

“Did they say anything?” Ed asked.

“No, they just stood there, and then they argued and walked away.”

“Just between you and me, I think there's something very strange about those two.”

“Strange or ...?” Karla asked, her eyes saying more than her words.

“Don't ask and don't tell.”

“I guess so.  We'd better get back to work.”

The second airman laughed as the two exited, saying, “You know, Ed, no matter what it is, they are entertaining to watch.”

“Don't let O'Neill hear you say that.”

“Never.  I keep my distance.  That man is scary!”

====

As had been the norm for longer than Jack cared to remember, the loop played out, only the banter with Daniel, even if it had been a bit like a fight, filled Jack's heart with a feeling of loss.  He missed their time together, just talking and touching.  He'd stayed away a long time, and the banter had only reminded him of what was absent from his life.

~Okay, so it's not fair, but I can't go on like this.  I'm not a ... saint.~

Jack's decision was made, so when the next loop started, he told Teal'c that they were going to take another loop off.  As soon as they could, the two slipped away, Teal'c to do whatever he was doing (~Not sure I want to know anymore,~ Jack mused), and Jack to lovingly kidnap his soulmate.

Jack entered Daniel's office.

“I was just coming to see you,” the archaeologist said.

Jack knew the routine.  This was where Daniel was “scheduled” to tell him about the alien text.

~Not this loop, Dannyboy.~

Making sure the room was secure, Jack took Daniel in his arms.

“Jack, if we're in a time ...”

Jack cut off his soulmate's words.

“Forget the loop.  There's ... hundreds of 'em.  I think we should take a holiday.”

“Holiday?  Jack, have you lost your mind?”

“Not yet, but I might soon.  Danny, please trust me.  Go on holiday with me.”

“Wh...where?”

“Here.  The SGC.  I have the whole loop planned.  All you have to do is say yes.”

“We shouldn't.”

“Say yes.”

Daniel smiled and said, “Yes.”

They had a crazy, magical time, doing all kinds of foolish things, and every time Daniel protested, Jack silenced him with a reminder that the loop would end, and no one would remember a thing.  Jack laughed and smiled for the first time since the loops had begun, and the reason was the man currently laughing so hard that he was holding his sides.

They were in Jack's office where Jack was showing his lover some very creative dance moves.

“You're a nut, O'Neill.”

“I don't know about that, but I'm nuts about you!”

The two kissed amid their laughter, slowly moving their bodies to the floor below, their need and want for each other quickly overshadowing the hilarity of the past hour.

“Danny, the loop is going to end soon.”

“So we go out ... with a bang,” he said wearing a big grin.

Jack was about to argue when he heard the klaxons and call of an off-world activation.  It was how all the loops ended, so instead of arguing with Daniel, he enjoyed one last kiss.

After that, Jack focused on getting the alien text transferred.  Spending time with Daniel had given him new life, but at the same time, it had been painful.

They were getting closer to the end of the text as more loops passed.  Jack had reeled Teal'c back in, telling him that their “play time” had to end or they'd never get out of the loop.  Teal'c agreed, thanking his CO for the “unusual vacation.”

Jack was tempted to asked the Jaffa what he'd been doing, but after the scene in the infirmary with Janet, he was afraid to.

====

Jack held the last page in his hand.  Hope was alight in his body.  He felt his blood flowing more freely, and his blood pressure finally lowering.  It felt good to know that the nightmare might be over in a matter of hours.

An hour later, Daniel exclaimed, “That's it!  We've got it.”

“So, do you know how to get us out of this?”

“Yeah, I think so.”

“You think?” Jack asked a bit pointedly, then he realized he had sounded a bit harsh.

His eyes were full of apology, and Daniel nodded, a silent acceptance.

“I will inform GeneralHammond that we are ready to proceed,” Teal'c announced, leaving the two lovers alone.

Daniel gathered up his papers.

“Daniel, are you sure you understand all of this now?”

“Jack, I know my job.”

“That's not what I meant.”

“Right.  Thanks for your help.”

“My pleasure,” Jack answered automatically.

“Jack, how many of these loops have you ... have we been through?”

Jack hated that question.  He knew where it might lead.

“A lot.  I lost track a long time ago.”

“You know, as frustrating as I'm sure it was for you and Teal'c, it was also an incredible opportunity.”

Jack so didn't want this discussion, so he tried for a diversion.

“Need any help with that stuff?”

“No, I'm just making a few notes.  I need to review this for a minute.”

Jack thought he was safe.  Daniel would now immerse himself in preparing for the briefing.  If only things went as Jack had hoped.

“Anyway, think about it.  I mean if you knew in advance ...”

Jack was desperate.  He picked up a relic and began to bounce it around.

“Jack, stop that.”

“It's just a ... toy.”

“Toy?  Okay, O'Neill, that's enough ...”

Jack knew it was a silly argument, but he needed the diversion and decided to go with whatever worked.  At the same time, he wanted to minimize the damage.

“Daniel, this isn't the time or the place.  We have a briefing to go to.  Pick up your toys and let's go.”

“I am sick and tired of you calling my things toys.”

“I've ALWAYS called them toys.”

“Not with that tone.  It's different when you're just ... teasing, but you weren't teasing.  They are NOT toys.”

“Yes, they are.”

“FINE!  Excuse me,” Daniel picked up the papers and images.  He glared at Jack, “I'm taking my ... toys and going to the briefing.  After which, we will hopefully get out of this mess, and then, Colonel, Sir, my toys and I are going home, to my apartment, and I may just get the lock changed.”

“Daniel ...”

The young man darted out of the office, leaving Jack to sigh.

~You are so stubborn sometimes, even if you are right and ... I'm wrong.  I'll make it up to you as soon as I get a chance to.~

Before the briefing began, Jack attempted to talk with Daniel, wanting to start the “make up” process, but Daniel ignored him.  It frustrated Jack tremendously, so to get back at his lover, he smiled at his 2IC, like he had done after the kiss.  He knew it would set Daniel off.

~Just a little revenge, Love.~

Daniel did notice, his stare intense, as he got his notes in order.

**We'll discuss that smile at home, Jack.**

**I thought you were going to your apartment and changing the lock?**

The archaeologist didn't have a chance for a retort, General Hammond asking him to report.  He stood at the end of the long table in the briefing note, holding several papers in his hand as he explained what he had learned.

“Ah… with the help of Teal'c and ... Jack,” Daniel glared at his lover, “I’ve managed to complete the translation.  As I originally suspected, P4X-639 was once a colony of the Ancients. They thrived there for thousands of years until they were struck by some sort of unspecified cataclysm, perhaps a disease, but we'll never really know for sure.  In any case, facing certain destruction, they built a time machine.”

“They were going to go back and change their history to avoid their fate,” Jack added.

“Right, but it didn't work.  Instead of sending a team of scientists back to the key moment in their history, the device caused a short term continuous loop just like the one we've been experiencing.  They experienced the same day dozens perhaps hundreds of times trying to get the machine to work, but in the end, they gave up.  They shut it down and … let the end come.”

The general asked, “So the loop can be broken?”

Daniel knew the simple answer was “yes,” but ~two can play this game, O'Neill.~  What did Jack O'Neill dislike almost more than anything else?  “Yes” answers being drawn out into a paragraph or more, so that's exactly what Daniel set out to do.

He walked to the computer screen and responded, “Ah … there’s a section of text on the altar that deals specifically with the geomagnetic storms that power the device.  Apparently, they recur every fifty or so years which is why incidentally …

The young man barely managed to hide his smile when, frustrated with the round-about response, Jack interrupted with a forceful, “Yes, Sir! The loop can be broken.”

Daniel stared at his lover, silently relaying, **Revenge, my love**

Jack looked at him with a bit of scowl, but Daniel just picked up where the older man had left off.

“I was getting to that.  When we activate the symbols on the altar in the right sequence, I think we can shut it down.”

Hammond addressed his 2IC, “Colonel, have your team geared up and ready to embark in thirty minutes.”

As they headed for the locker room, Jack and Daniel engaged in a brief discussion.

**You called me 'Love.'**

**That's because you are, even when you drive me crazy, Jack.**

**Danny, I'm sorry.  Your things aren't toys.  I just needed to distract you.  I'll tell you why later.  I promise.**

**I know you will.**

**You aren't really going to change the lock, are you?**

**Don't worry about it.**

**But, Danny ...**

**Jack, you have the key to my heart.  Why should a lock on a door be an obstacle?**

**Geez, I love you.**

**Love you, too.**

====

On the planet, SG-1 had just walked through the Stargate when Sam began to check her instruments.  Jack surprised her when he casually spoke, “A geomagnetic storm is building up.  We shouldn't stay long.”  Sam looked at him in shock, causing Jack to shrug and respond, “Lucky guess.”

The foursome headed toward the altar, with Jack calling out for Malikai who was nowhere in sight.  Suddenly, Teal'c was thrown back onto the ground by a force field which now protected the pedestal area from being approached.  As Sam checked onTeal'c, Malikai appeared and went to the pedestal.

“I’m sorry, but you've come to break the time loop, and I’m afraid I can't let you do that.”

Jack ordered the alien archaeologist to get away from the device, but he refused, continuing to ready the machine to activate when the storm approached a certain level.

Daniel walked forward, trying to reason with his colleague, “Malikai, we have to reset those controls or the loop is going to start all over again.”

“I’m counting on it.  I need more time.  Once I’ve correctly deciphered the symbols on the altar, I will be able to master the time device.”

Sarcastically, Jack asked, “Why, so you can be king of Groundhog Day?”

“Do you think I would do this for personal power?  She … You wouldn't understand.”

Jack reacted to the man's words.  He wondered if perhaps the alien's reasons were a bit more personal than he had anticipated.  A bit more compassionately, Jack asked, “What happened?”

“She died … twelve years ago.  When I found this place and discovered its true purpose, I dedicated myself to unlocking its mysteries.”

“So you could go back and save her,” Sam reasoned, just as Teal'c came to, returning to his feet.

“No, that would be quite impossible.  She died from a congenital heart weakness.  Not even the ability to travel time could change that.”

“Then why are you doing this?” Jack asked, removing his sunglasses.

The alien answered truthfully, “To be with her once more.”

Also removing his sunglasses, Daniel explained, “Malikai, the device doesn't work.”  Seeing the alien look up at him, he continued.  “It never did.”  He was full of sympathy for his alien colleague, his facial expression showing genuine concern, but his words went unheeded.

“It never did?  You’re living proof.”

Again, Daniel spoke with a sincerity and sorrow that came from his heart as he told Malikai the truth.

“We finished translating the text on the ruins.  The Ancients who built this place never got it to work.  They tried over and over again just like you, but in the end, they gave up.  Why do you think this place has been deserted so long?  They couldn't save themselves.”

The alien didn't want to believe it.  Adamantly, he rebuffed Daniel's comments, “You’re wrong.  There must be some other explanation.  I know I can make this work!”

“You can't!  They proved it can't be done.  You’re just going to go on like this forever.  You’ll be trapped!”

Teal'c added, “Along with billions of innocent others.”

“This device activates fourteen Stargates simultaneously,” Sam explained.  “That’s fourteen worlds reliving the same day over and over.”

Malikai hadn't realized the full effects of his actions.  He seemed sorry as he said quietly, “I didn't realize,” but still, he said it didn't matter.

He continued on, not wanting to face the truth, but then, Jack began to speak, telling the man that “... You can't change what happened to her.”

His heart aching, Malikai said, “I can touch her face again and talk with her, hear her laugh.”

“Like you remember?”

“Yes.”

This subject was no stranger to Jack O'Neill as he continued the questioning, “And then what'll happen?”

“She’ll die.”

“And then what?  You’ll start over?”  Jack saw the storm intensifying.  He didn't have much time.  Drawing on his own tragedy, Jack talked to Malikai from his heart.  “Listen to me, I know what it’s like.”

“You can't!”

“I lost my son!  I know … and as much as I … I could never live that over again.  Could you?”

Daniel's heart was aching.  He knew Jack was now in pain.  Their mission had taken on a new depth.  He didn't need to see his lover's face to know the depth of the emotion and the sorrow.  He watched as the scene played out, as Jack finally convinced Malikai that life had to move forward.

“No,” came the sad response.

“Let her go,” Jack pleaded.

Malikai finally heard the truth, slowly reaching forward to deactivate the machine.  The energy build up stopped, and then he lowered the force field, giving SG-1 access to the altar and the ruins once again.

Jack moved forward, taking the small device that held the image of Malikai's wife.  He gently handed it to the man and exchanged a painful look of empathy.  Loss was one thing Jack understood perfectly.

They bid their good-byes, and SG-1 returned to Earth.

====

Things back to normal, Jack, Daniel, and Sam were once again eating breakfast in the commissary.  It had taken a few hours to do the final debriefing, post-mission exams, and other normal procedures, and once they were finished, the three decided to get through their breakfast without incident, after which they had seventy-two hours of downtime.

Watching his lover with a huge spoonful of food, Daniel commented, “I don't think I’ve ever seen anyone enjoy oatmeal so much.”

“When you've been eating Froot Loops for who knows how long, a little variety helps.”

Sam stated, “Well, we got a message from the Tok’ra.  Apparently, they've been trying to contact us for over three months.”

“Really?” Jack asked.

“Who knows when they first realized that we were cut off.  I mean, there’s really no telling how much time passed.”

Not realizing this was the question Jack didn't want to hear, Daniel decided to ask something he'd been wondering about.

“Let me ask you something.  In all the time that you were, ah, looping, were you ever tempted to do something crazy?  I mean, ah, you could do anything without worrying about consequences.”

~Stubborn and a memory like an elephant.  Oh well.~  Jack answered, “You know it’s funny.  You've asked me that before.”

“And?”

Jack smiled at Sam who cluelessly returned the smile.

**Okay, O'Neill, what is that smile about?**

**Am I smiling?**

**You are.**

**I am not ... not much anyway**

“Excuse me, Sam.  I have some things to do.”

Jack sighed as Daniel left the commissary.

“See you in a couple of days, Carter.”

“Colonel ...”

“He'll be fine.  I just ... need to straighten out a few things.“

“Good luck, Sir.”

“Thanks.  I may need it.”

====

“Daniel,” Jack entered his lover's office.  **Let's go home.  I can explain everything there.**

The young man said nothing, but turned and walked out.  Jack hoped that was a positive response.  He followed Daniel to the locker room, where they changed into their civvies.

~So far, so good.~

Once again in silence, Daniel headed for the parking level, Jack sharing the ride in the elevator.  Jack watched as Daniel got into his car.

**Beat ya there, O'Neill.**

Jack actually laughed, breathing a sigh of relief.  It wasn't over, but obviously, Daniel wasn't really that mad at him.

**I don't stand a chance with you in that sports car.  Danny, drive safely.**

**Gawd, Jack.  You are incorrigible.  I'm out of here.**

Seeing Daniel drive off, Jack raced to his truck.  His lover had exited a bit fast for his normal way of doing things.  He was about to panic when he heard a comforting message.

**Jack, it's okay.  I'm going to your house, and I won't drive like a maniac.  Stop worrying,** Daniel spoke silently.

**I love you, Danny.**

**I refuse to answer on grounds that it might incriminate me.  Are you driving yet?** Daniel questioned.

**About to hit the first checkpoint.**

**You're going to worry, aren't you?** the younger man aske.d

**That's who I am, especially when I know I've upset you.**

Daniel responded, **That's why I'm right here.  I don't want you getting into an accident worrying about me.**

Jack smiled as he approached the first turn on the winding road that led down from the Cheyenne Mountain Complex.  Daniel's car was at the side of the road.

**Thank you, Danny.**

The two safely drove home, their silent communication giving way to music on their radios.  Jack was still amazed at that unusual link.  He never knew when it would work, unless they were in the same room.  It had never failed them when they were in close proximity, but with time, the bond had grown, and sometimes, it worked when they were further away.

“Jack, you're thinking too hard.”

The older man responded, “Was wondering why that silent link worked so well earlier.”

“You should know by now,” Daniel reminded, having realized that their silent link sometimes worked at greater distances when their emotions were at their highest.

“I know.  You don't want to explain it.  That's not what I was thinking about.  I know it works when we're together, but you had quite a head start on me once you left the parking lot.”

“Jack,” Daniel pulled his lover inside the house.  “When we worry about each other, it's there.  More and more, it's there, and ... we were both worrying about each other.”

They shared a kiss, and Jack was about to try and maneuver his lover upstairs.  It had, after all, been months.

“Whoa, Fly Boy!”

“Daniel, it's been three months!”

“One day.”

“For you, not for me.”

Jack brushed by Daniel and entered the living room, walking over to the sofa were he stood pouting.

“I know.  I'm sorry,” Daniel said, a bit of laughter in his voice at seeing Jack's stance.  “I do it better.”

“Do what?”

“That,” Daniel said, motioning at Jack.

Jack smiled, but then he sighed, “Danny, I need to tell you about the last three months.”

“Okay, I'm listening.”

====

Jack had given Daniel a detailed account of the time loops, leaving out just one thing.  He knew it would be the kicker.

“There's just one more thing.”

“What?”  Daniel looked at his lover with concern.  “What could be so bad that you're hesitating like this?”

Then Daniel had a revelation.  He remembered the goofy smile in the commissary and at the briefing.  Jack noticed the change in Daniel's posture.  It made him nervous.  He began to fidget a bit, something Daniel noticed.

~Major guilt over there.  Look at you, Jack.  You aren't looking at me.  Since when do you find the carpet more attractive than me?  And you're doing that bobbing thing with your feet, as if you could jump out of your skin or something.  Your hands are in your pocket, and you haven't yet answered my question.  Oh yeah, Babe.  Something's wrong here.~

“Are you going to tell me, Jack?”

“You remember that no consequences thing?”

“Yes.”  Daniel paused a beat.  “Wait.  What did you do?”

Jack looked at Daniel, apology written on his face as he moved his head in a slight shake.  Then, Daniel knew.

“Gawd.  Sam.”

“Don't jump to conclusions, Daniel.  It was just one kiss ... in the control room, surrounded by people.”

Daniel's anger flared, but he said nothing.  His breathing grew visibly more labored, and he shook his head in short shaking motions.

“Danny ...”

“You kissed her ... *again*!  Geez, Jack, how many excuses for kissing Sam are you going to dream up?  How can you think anything makes it okay for *my* lover to kiss one of my best friends?”

“It *didn't* mean anything.  It was just ... something to do.”

“Something to do?  Read a book, watch TV, play with your ... yo-yo, but *don't* kiss Sam!”

“You would have done the same thing.”

“I would not!”

“You're a red-blooded, American male.  Come on, think about it.  If you could have kissed Carter, just for the heck of it, wouldn't you have?”

“No, I wouldn't, and you know why, Jack?  Because I love you.  And why is it always Sam?  Why not Janet or one of the nurses.  Why'd it have to be Sam?  Do you have feelings for her?  Do you want to be with her?”

Jack winced at the pain he could hear in his soulmate's voice and tried again to explain.

“You know the answer that, but if you need me to say it, the answer is no.  I don't want to be with Carter.  It was just a stupid thing to do, but, Danny, think about it.  Loop after loop.  In fact, months worth of loops, over and over.  Alone.  Don't you think it's possible ... just possible ... that in an attempt to ... not die of boredom, you just *might* have done something crazy like ... kissing Carter?”

“Why turn to Sam?  Why not me?”  Daniel folded his arms in a self-hug. ~No, I wouldn't.~  He wanted to say it out loud, but he really wasn't sure.  It was just that this had happened before.  ~Alternate reality Sam.  How many more reasons will there be to kiss her?~

Jack saw Daniel's agonizing look.  He said as sincerely as he could, “Daniel, I'm sorry.”

Daniel wasn't interested in apologies.  He wanted to know it wouldn't happen again.  His doubts rose, and he struck out in anger, “No, you're not.  You'd do it again, and in fact, I bet you did.”

“YOU'RE WRONG!  Daniel, I kissed her one time ... and I've told you about it because ... because you have a right to know and because we don't lie to each other.”

“No, let's not lie, but let's kiss and tell ... kiss others and tell me.”

“Danny,” Jack walked to his lover.  His look was solemn.  “Please, listen to me.”

“That's all I do ... listen to you rationalize kissing her.”

“Daniel, please.”  Jack walked closer, placing his hands on Daniel's upper arms.  “Please.  Do you know how many times I went to you, but had to walk away?  Time after time after time.  There were so many times I couldn't keep track.  Geez, I wanted you, just you, but ...”

“But what?  I said 'no'?”

“No, I did.”

“What?  Why?”

Jack inched forward, wanting to kiss his soulmate, but Daniel started to pull away.  Jack held on, almost begging, “Please ... go along with me, if just for a minute.”

Daniel stared into Jack's eyes; the archaeologist was softening.  He gave a slight nod of permission, so Jack leaned in for the kiss.  In spite of Daniel's hurt and anger, the kiss grew, becoming very passionate and igniting an already burning hunger in both of them.

Then, unexpectedly, Jack released Daniel and backed away a few feet.

“Jack?”

“Danny, you know how you feel right now, how our kiss touched you, effected your emotions, and the physical sensations that go along with it.  You know.  It's a fact now that is a part of you.  Well, I know how I feel, too.  I'm ... desperate for you.  That kiss, every second of it, is in my soul.  How it felt, how our bodies pulled together ... I remember it, and equally important, so do you.  I kissed you like that during the third or fourth loop.  Do you remember?”

“I ...”

“No, you don't.  I wanted you.  We ... I turned off the security equipment, and we were going to make love.”

“Where?”

“In your office.  You were willing, and I was ... I wanted you so bad.  I missed you, Danny, but ... we kissed and you brought up the last time we made love there.”

Daniel nodded in remembrance, saying, “It was great.”

“It was, and we both share that, but Angel,” Jack moved towards his lover again, “don't you see?  If we had made love that ... loop, and every other loop ... Danny, that would be months of us with memories that only I would have.  I don't want you that way.  You mean more to me than ...”

“Sex,” Daniel said meekly.

“Danny, I don't need sex.  I need you -- your love, and hard as it was, I walked away.  Loop after loop, I walked away.”  Daniel shifted uncomfortably as he stood and listened.  “Can you imagine how I felt, just for a second, to live days and weeks, knowing and remembering while to you every day was new and fresh.  Angel, to you we had made love that morning and were planning a weekend together.  For me, it was days that turned into months, and I couldn't touch you without feeling guilty that I was taking something precious from you.”

“Precious?”

“Memories.  Memories of us.  I couldn't, so I ... Danny, I tried to do all kinds of things.  I told you the stuff I did -- pottery, reading books, golf -- and I even played a bunch of practical jokes on people I don't even know or care about.”

“Wait.  You ... played jokes on people?  Who?  What?”

“Danny, it doesn't matter.  I picked Marines and airmen I didn't know and did silly, stupid, childhood-like things.”

“Why people you don't know?”

“Same reason -- memories.  I didn't want to have things I couldn't share with you.  I figured if I pulled pranks on Hammond or Fraiser that it wouldn't be fair because you weren't there to share it, not really.”

Daniel stood silently for a few minutes.  Jack knew he was on trial, and Daniel was now weighing the pros and cons of forgiving him.

The young man moved to stare at his fish.  He ran his hand along the aquarium, a deluxe aquarium, one Jack had purchased, along with the automatic feeder.  Jack loved him.  Daniel knew that.  He was just tired of him kissing Sam.  Okay, so it had only happened once, no twice, and one of those was before they were lovers, and the other wasn't really Sam, but a Sam from an alternate reality.

Besides, to him, only a day had passed, but to the man he loved, it had been months.  Daniel couldn't imagine how that would feel.  He decided they had better things to do than fight about Sam.  He turned and faced Jack.

“Okay, O'Neill, but it still doesn't excuse what you did.  You were wrong, and if you had to do it, you should have used someone else, not one of my best friends.”  Daniel sighed, softly repeating, “Anyone but Sam.”  His voice back to regular strength and timber, Daniel reiterated, “And you do have to pay a price.  I can't just let you off the hook.”

“You can't?”

“No, it's a matter of principle.”  Jack looked incredulously at Daniel.  “You kissed Sam,” the young man reminded.  “Our Sam!  Not some lookalike and not when she was under the influence of some virus.  That requires you to exact ... symbols of your sorrow.”

Jack echoed, “Symbols of my sorrow?”  He shook his head, but gave in without a fight.  After all, he was getting off light by foregoing a big fight, and they had better things to do than fight!  “Okay, what's it going to cost me?”

Daniel smiled as he answered, “Breakfast in bed whenever we're home, and real breakfast, Jack.  No Froot Loops or Wheaties or whatever.  I want hot meals, lots of waffles and eggs, an omelet or two.  Variety, Jack, and for a solid month.”

“Month?” Jack hesitated only momentarily, the blues eyes he was gazing into reminding him of those better things to do.  “Okay, you've got it,” Jack began to move closer to his lover to seal the deal, but the young man threw his hands up and stepped back three steps.

“Not so fast.”  Jack sighed in response.  “There's more, Love.”

“Such as?”

“Control of the television ... for a month.  The remote is mine, all mine, AND,” Daniel's smile turned wicked, frightening the colonel, “You WILL watch what I do.  This is an exciting month, Jack.  Lots of documentaries, a couple of art and antique specials, things like that.  And there will be NO sporting events.  Not one.”

“But, Angel ...”

“You kissed her.  That constitutes cheating!”

“Breakfast and the television.  Anything else?  You want my blood?”

“No, I want you to tell Sam.”

“Excuse me?”

“Jack, what you did may seem funny to you, but you violated her.  Now, I know it seems harmless, but she has a right to know that you took advantage of her.”

“Daniel, I'll get court-martialed!”

“No, you won't.  She won't tell, and you know it.”

“Will you ... be there?”

Daniel laughed as he took his fearless leader into a tight embrace.

“I'll always be there, ah, here.  You shouldn't have done it, Jack, but I love you, and I know it was tough, but ...”

“Daniel, you don't know.  I mean ... never mind.”

“One more thing, Love.  Penance.  Sam gets to set her own retribution, and you can't argue with her.”

“Ah, Danny ...”

“That's the deal.  Take it or leave it.”

“What happens if I leave it?”

“I'll ...” Daniel stopped.  The two never teased about breaking up.  Life was too precious for that.  He wouldn't leave his lover over this.  He could tell there hadn't been anything more than the one kiss, and in Jack's eyes, he saw the truth of Jack's confession.  “I'll be disappointed in you.  That's all.”

~Disappointed?~  The word cut through Jack like a carving knife.  “Okay.  Can we go get it over with?  Otherwise, I'll dread it all night.”

“Sure.”

“Then we can come back and ...”

“Oh yeah, love that ... and!”

====

“You ... kissed me?” Sam asked in disbelief in the living room of her home.

“I was bored, Carter.  Three months.  Three friggin' months.”

“I understand that, Sir, but what about Daniel?  Why didn't you ...” Sam looked at Daniel who suddenly folded his arms and stared downward at her carpet.

“I couldn't.”

“Couldn't?”

“Daniel's ... different.  I couldn't do that.”

“I don't ...” Sam looked over at her friend, and the truth hit her.  “Oh, I see.”

“Sam, I'm sorry,” Daniel said, moving forward a step or two.  “The big lug here thought he couldn't even ... touch me, and ...”

“That's okay, Daniel.  I get the idea.”

“But he will pay, Sam.”

“Oh yeah?” she asked, a broad smile on her face.

“Yes.  His punishment from me has already been handed out, but what he did to you was wrong, and he knows it, but to make sure it really sinks in, you get to ...”

“Punish him?”

Sam positively glowed from the idea of being able to set a punishment.  It made the entire loop experience worth it.  Besides, she didn't even remember the kiss, and she was glad of that.

“Carter, you look like some girl who just inherited a room full of ... Barbie dolls!  And will you two stop talking about me like I'm not here!”

Both Daniel and Sam laughed.

“Make it good, Sam.”

“I don't know, Daniel.”

“Come on.  What does Jack do that really bugs you?”

Sam paced her living room.

“Well, you know, Daniel, it's kind of like with you.  I mean, what he does ...”

Daniel grinned as he exclaimed, “GOT IT!  Sam, that's perfect!”

“I think so, too!”

“What's perfect?” Jack asked, afraid of the answer.

“Jack, for the next month, you'll listen to Sam ... prattle, and you'll pay attention, and you will NOT interrupt her,” Daniel raised his hand, pointing his finger at his lover and shaking his head, “... not once,
Jack,” Daniel ordered.

Jack growled, but nodded, and the two started to leave.  Just before opening the door, Jack reached out and touched his 2IC's arm.

“Carter, I really am sorry.  I missed him, and I ... I'm sorry.”

“It's okay, Sir.  Just ... don't do it again.”

“Not a worry there.”

Jack and Daniel returned home.  This time, they were more at peace.  There were no more shocking revelations, and their brief argument about Sam was long over.  They had gone upstairs and made love for hours.

“Gawd, Jack,” Daniel said after their last eruption.

“Three months, Danny.  I missed you.”

If there had been any doubt in the young man's mind, which there hadn't been, it had evaporated.  He was totally satiated.  Jack had devoured him over and over again with signs of more to come.  It wasn't just sex.  Daniel saw the absolute love and adoration in the older man's eyes.  Jack's need was for Daniel, and it made Daniel feel warm and happy inside.

It was well after 1 a.m. when they took a shower, dressed in their sweats, and then went outside for some air.  They opted to settle on the roof deck, sitting side by side.  Daniel's head rested on Jack's shoulder.

“Jack, tell me again why you didn't ... we didn't ... I mean, gawd, I would have.  Why didn't you spend time with me?”

“It's like I said earlier tonight.  The plain truth is that I didn't want the memories alone, Danny.  I felt like it would be taking something from you that I didn't have a right to take.”

“Jack, I love you.  I wouldn't have done anything I didn't want to.”

“I know, but you wouldn't remember any of those loops, either, would you?”

“No, I guess not.”

“Angel, I want all of our memories to be OUR memories.  It was so hard not to touch you, but I couldn't, not after the first time.  It felt wrong.”

“Jack, did we ...”

“No, but we spent a wonderful day doing all kinds of ... silly things.”

“Show me.”

“Okay, tomorrow we'll recreate the day as best we can away from the Mountain.  I'll show you what we did.”

They spent another twenty minutes outside before returning to their bedroom.  Neither managed to get much sleep, and that's exactly how they wanted it.  They had other more important things to do!

====

As promised, the next day, Jack spent six and a half hours recreating that particular loop.  Jack had taught his lover basic pottery, the two laughing at the sagging vases that Daniel attempted.  They had gotten into a clay fight, ending up with the moldy stuff all over their clothes.

Then, they played Strip Fish.  Daniel had never heard of the game, and Jack admitted he had made it up because “It's quicker than Strip Poker.” Daniel was disappointed, however, when Jack stopped the game just before they removed the crucial pieces of their clothing.  “We were at the base.  Hammond called,” Jack explained.

After that, they got into a blue Jell-O fight.

“Jack, we didn't.”

“Yes, we did.  In the commissary.  You won, by the way.  Of course, Dobbins wasn't too thrilled because the mess was ... a mess,” Jack quipped.

Their silly day continued, concluding with some time in Jack's office, though for the recreation, it was the study.  Jack put on a rock-n-roll radio station and proceeded to teach his lover how to do the Funky Chicken.

Daniel was laughing so hard at the craziness of it all that he finally sank down to the floor, holding his abdomen.

Jack joined him, leaning over the man of his dreams, stopping the laughter with a kiss.  Then, very seriously, he said, “See what I mean?  Tomorrow, Danny, we'll wake up, and we can talk about what we did today.  For those three months in the loop, we couldn't do that.  It just felt cold.  Do you understand?”

“Yes, I do.  Jack, I'll remember now.  Show me what you would have done next.”

Jack grinned and then he devoured his lover with a much-desired round of passion.  He'd never loved anyone the way he loved Daniel, and now, he wanted to show him just how much that was.  When their lovemaking was complete, they spent a romantic night together before going to sleep.

They had one more day to ravish each other, and soon they'd find time for that weekend trip to the beach, though they weren't sure yet exactly when that would be.

Daniel was certain he understood what had happened during the time loops, or he thought he did.  There was still a part of him that wished Jack had “stayed” and not “strayed” even if it was just a single kiss.  He fell asleep on his lover's chest thinking about the event, understanding and yet not.

====

“Angel, wake up,” Jack said softly, leaning over for a morning kiss.

“Hmm, Jack.”

“At your service, in every way,” Jack promised.  He saw his lover grin and felt the younger man's arms wrapping him as they shared another long kiss.  “Breakfast is served.”

“Mmm.  My favorite -- O'Neill Delight!”

Jack chuckled, then said, “That's dessert.  First up,” Jack looked over at the end of the bed, “waffles, your majesty.”

Jack sat next to his lover, enjoying another new day.  He was smiling.”

“Jack, you're awfully happy this morning.”

“It's a new day, Love, full of ... unexpected things.”  Daniel quieted, his eating slowing to a crawl.  “Hey, what?”

“I had a dream, Jack.  Last night, I dreamed we were in a time loop, but this time I was the one who knew, and you didn't.”

“And?”

“And it was horrible.  You know what it's like.  People can sympathize with something, but unless you've been through it, you can't really empathize.”  Jack nodded his understanding.  “It was just a dream, but I think it's helped me to see how difficult it would be to bear that responsibility.  I pushed you away, too, for all the reasons you said you kept away from me.  It was a nightmare.”

“Yes, it was.”

“I'm sorry I didn't get it until now, but I still didn't kiss anyone else!”

“I won't ever do that again.  Next time loop, I'm celibate, like a monk,” Jack proclaimed.

“Jack!”

“Just teasing.  I won't do it again.  I love you, Danny,” the older man stated.

“I love you, too.”  After the two shared a loving gaze into each other's eyes, Daniel called out, “Jack?”

“Yes, Love.”

“We have a wonderful opportunity,” Daniel stated.

“We do?” Jack asked.

“Mmm-mmm.”

“To do what?”

“Be thankful for every day and every kiss,” Daniel spoke eloquently.

“Yeah!”  Jack reached over with his left hand to touch his lover's cheek.  Then he asked, “Ready for dessert?”

“Oh, yeah.  Wouldn't want to waste that opportunity.”

“Not a chance, Babe.  Not a chance!”

Discarding Daniel's breakfast tray, Jack thrilled in being the young man's dessert.  It was an opportunity neither could resist, nor did they want to!  It went over so well, that for the duration of his punishment, Jack decided to include himself in the menu as much as possible.

~Breakfast in bed with Danny.  Life doesn't get much better than this!~ Jack declared, happy in the nation of two he shared with his soulmate.

~~Finis - Finished - Done - The End - But is it ever Really?~~
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